The Standard Diet
The macrobiotic approach to health is based on the traditional philosophy that food is our best medicine, together with hard work, exercise, self-reflection and a more natural lifestyle in general.
Whether we are trying to maintain our daily health or relieving a serious illness, our food can be prepared simply and in a delicious, attractive way that includes a wide variety of ingredients.
It is best to cook on wood or gas. These types of fuel provide a steady, even heat and preserve the natural qualities of food. Electric or microwave heat produces a chaotic vibration and should be avoided if possible.
In a temperate four season climate the Standard Macrobiotic Diet, based on traditional ways of eating in both East and West, and modified for modern times, includes the following categories of foods:
Whole Grains - The principal food of each meal is whole cereal grains, comprising from 40-50% of the total weight of the meal. These include brown rice, millet, barley, oats, whole-wheat berries, rye, buckwheat, and corn
Occasionally - Grain and flour products, such as whole wheat or buckwheat noodles, pasta, seitan, bread, bulgur, couscous, and rolled oats
Soups - About 5-10% (1-2 bowls) of daily intake may be in the form of soups. Soup broth can be made with miso or shoyu soy sauce that is prepared from naturally fermented soybeans, sea salt and grains. Add several types of land and sea vegetables, especially wakame or kombu. The taste should be mild, neither too salty nor too bland. Enjoy soups made with grains, beans, vegetables and a little fish from time to time.
Vegetables - About 30-40 percent of each meal should include fresh vegetables prepared in a variety of ways. Have a balanced mix of root, round and leafy green vegetables every day. Up to about 1/3 of the vegetables may be enjoyed in the form of a fresh salad or traditionally made pickles. Wild vegetables may be served in small volume and very occasionallyIn temperate zones, vegetables of tropical origin should be avoided.
Beans - A small portion (about 5-10%) of daily food includes cooked beans or bean products, such as tofu, tempeh and natto. This may be prepared individually or cooked together with grains, vegetables or sea vegetables, or served in the form of soup.
Sea Vegetables - Seaweeds are rich in minerals and vitamins and are served daily in small volume (about 5% or 1-2 servings). They may be included in soups, cooked with vegetables or beans, or prepared as a small side dish.
Salt, Oil & Seasoning - Use unrefined sea salt, miso, shoyu soy sauce, or umeboshi plums in cooking to give a salty taste. Food should not have an overly salty flavor. Add seasonings during cooking rather than at the table.
Unrefined sesame oil is the most suitable for daily cooking. Corn oil and occasionally other high-quality unrefined vegetable oils may also be used.
Brown rice vinegar, sweet rice vinegar, and umeboshi vinegar may be used for a sour taste.
Avoid spices, herbs and other stimulants and aromatic substances.
Use kuzu root powder and arrowroot flour for gravies and sauces.
Condiments - A small amount of condiments may be used on grains, beans or vegetables at the table. These include gomasio (roasted sesame seeds and salt), roasted sea vegetable powders, and tekka root vegetable mixture.
Pickles - A small amount of homemade pickles may be served each day to aid digestion. Traditionally, fermented pickles are made with a variety of root, round, ground and leafy green vegetables and are prepared in sea salt, rice or wheat bran, shoyu soy sauce, miso or umeboshi plums. Spices, sugar and vinegary pickles should be avoided.
Beverages - Spring or well water that is clear and pure is used for drinking, cooking, and preparing teas and other beverages. Bancha twig tea is commonly served at meals, though any other traditional tea that does not have an aromatic fragrance or stimulating effect, and is not artificially processed, may also be served. Roasted grain teas and grain coffees are also frequently enjoyed.
For those in good health, a variety of supplemental foods may also be enjoyed. For those who are ill or lacking vitality, some of these foods may need to be avoided or reduced depending upon the individual condition. Supplemental foods include:
Animal Food - A small amount of fish of seafood may be served once or twice a week if desired. White-meat fish contains less fat than the red- or blue-skinned varieties, and deep ocean fish contain fewer pollutants than freshwater varieties. Other animal food, including meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products are generally avoided.
Seeds and Nuts - Roasted seeds and nuts, lightly seasoned with sea salt or shoyu soy sauce, may be served occasionally. Nut butters, which are oilier, may be used very sparingly.
Fruit - Fruit may be served a few times a week, preferably cooked or naturally dried, as a dessert or snack, provided the fruit grows in the local climate zone. Fresh fruit may also be served in moderate volume during its growing season. Fruit juice is generally too concentrated for regular use, although occasional consumption in very hot weather is recommended. Tropical fruits should be avoided unless you live in the area where they grow.
Desserts - Desserts may be served several times a week and may include cookies, puddings, cakes, and other dishes prepared with naturally sweet ingredients or natural sweeteners. Rice syrup, barley malt, amasake, and apple juice are the best sweeteners. Honey, molasses, corn syrup, carob, fructose and all types of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Maple syrup may be used in recipes sparingly.
Provided the proportion of food in each of the four main categories is generally correct and each mouthful of food is chewed thoroughly, you may eat as much as you like, two or three times a day. It is best to eat only when hungry and leave the table feeling satisfied but not full. Similarly, drink only when thirsty and do not consume unnecessary second and third refills. For better digestion, it is good practice not to serve food or snacks within three hours of bedtime, because this puts extra strain on the intestines and kidneys.
During each meal, a moment should be taken to express gratitude to God, nature or the universe for the gifts of the earth and to reflect on the use to which the food is put. This may take the form of grace, a moment of silence, chanting, or whatever feels appropriate and comfortable.